Can Dogs Eat Chicken Hearts, Livers, and Gizzards?

Picture of a Chicken

Most people today think dog food comes from a can or a bag but feeding dogs wasn’t always that way. A hundred years ago, kibble as we know it today didn’t exist. Canned dog food was only beginning to be imagined. A well-fed dog would be lucky to get leftovers from the family kitchen. If you’re wondering whether dogs can eat chicken hearts, livers, and gizzards, the answer is a definite yes! Dogs today, like dogs in the past, thrive on these organs. (Technically the heart is a muscle but it’s often lumped in with organ meats.)

To learn more about the benefits of chicken hearts, livers, and gizzards for your dog, keep reading.

Chicken hearts, livers, and gizzards nutrition

Picture of Chicken HeartsChicken hearts and gizzards are a good source of protein. The gizzard is the part of the chicken that grinds food for the chicken before it is digested. Both parts are higher in fat and cholesterol than white meat chicken.

Chicken gizzards have slightly fewer calories than chicken hearts. A cup of chicken gizzards has 223 calories per cup compared to 268 calories per cup for chicken hearts. (Both are simmered.)

Gizzards have slightly more protein than hearts. A cup of chicken gizzards has 44.1 grams of protein while a cup of chicken hearts has 38.3 grams of protein.

Both of them contain all of the essential amino acids so they are a complete source of protein. They are low in calories and high in protein. Chicken hearts are considered high in fat. One cup of hearts contains 11.5 grams of total fat.

Both chicken hearts and gizzards are high in zinc and iron but hearts have more of both. One cup of hearts contains 13.1 milligrams of iron and 10.6 milligrams of zinc. One cup of gizzards contains 4.62 milligrams of iron and 6.41 milligrams of zinc. Iron is required to make hemoglobin and carry oxygen through the body. Zinc helps boost the immune system.

As for chicken livers, they are low in sodium and a good source of thiamin, zinc, copper, and manganese, as well as protein https://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/poultry-products/667/2, vitamin A, vitamin C, riboflavin, niacin, vitamin B6, folate, vitamin B12, pantothenic acid, iron, phosphorus, and selenium.

Chicken livers are 63 percent protein, 2 percent carbohydrates, and 35 percent fats. Chicken livers are considered to be nutrient-dense and they have been called a “super food.” Chicken liver is low in calories, high in quality protein, and packed with essential vitamins and minerals https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/why-liver-is-a-superfood.

Many people today look to fruits and vegetables as a source of vitamins and minerals and these foods are quite healthy, but they don’t compare to liver and other organ meats as a source of nutrients.

Just a small amount of liver provides the recommended dietary intake (RDI) for many essential nutrients. Plus, liver is inexpensive and always available at local grocery stores.

Liver is one of the most nutrient-dense foods available on a per-calorie basis.

Some people are concerned about eating liver because they fear that the liver contains the toxins it removes from the body. The liver doesn’t store toxins. Eating liver is perfectly safe for you and for your dog.

Can dogs eat chicken hearts, gizzards, and liver?

Picture of Chicken GizzardsYes, dogs can eat chicken hearts, gizzards, and liver. In fact, these organs are specifically included in most homemade and raw diets for dogs http://greyhoundwelfare.org/feeding-dog-raw-diet/.

How much chicken hearts, gizzards, and liver can you give your dog?

Chicken hearts, gizzards, and liver are all very rich in one way or another. Hearts and gizzards are higher in fat than many meats. Liver is low in calories but it is still made up of about 35 percent fats. It’s also very high in vitamin A. As part of your dog’s regular diet, chicken hearts, gizzards, and liver should not make up more than 5-10 percent of your dog’s daily meals. Eating too much of these foods can lead to loose stools.

As a treat, hearts, gizzards, and liver should be given sparingly. Most dogs love these foods but a little goes a long way. Some retailers and vendors sell them air-dried or dehydrated, as treats. It’s best not to let your dog gorge on too many at one time.

Preparing chicken hearts, gizzards, and livers for your dog

If you feed your dog a raw diet, you should follow the regular directions for including hearts, gizzards, and livers in his diet.

If you make homemade food for your dog, make food to use as a topper, or mix some into his regular kibble, it’s best to lightly simmer organ meats like chicken hearts, gizzards, and livers. Just add a little water to them in a pot and cook over a low heat for a few minutes. You can chop them first or after you remove them from the pot before you add them to your dog’s meal. Be sure to include the juice/water from the pot in your dog’s meal. It will be tasty and include any nutrients that have cooked out.

You can also bake chicken hearts, gizzards, and liver on a low heat in the oven. Many trainers and dog show people bake small pieces of liver to use as rewards in the show ring. Your house will definitely smell like liver but your dog will love these treats.

How often can you give your dog chicken hearts, gizzards, and liver?

Picture of Chicken LiversKeep the amounts small and you can give your dog chicken hearts, gizzards, and liver every day. However, if you give your dog too much of these organ meats, he can have loose stools so use caution.

Dogs and chicken hearts, gizzards, and liver: conclusion

Dogs have been eating hearts, gizzards, and liver from animals for thousands of years. Today it’s easy to buy these organs in your local grocery store. They are very healthy for your dog – in small amounts. Whether you add them to your dog’s meals or use them as treats, your dog will love chicken hearts, gizzards, and liver.

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Carlotta Cooper

Carlotta Cooper

Carlotta Cooper is a long-time contributing editor for the weekly dog show magazine DN Dog News. She's the author of The Dog Adoption Bible, a Dog Writers Association of America (DWAA) award winner. In addition, she is an American Kennel Club Gazette breed columnist and is the author of several books about dogs. She has been reviewing pet foods and writing about dog food for more than 10 years.

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